Buying Advice

AutomotiveMap Picks: Best Off-Roading Vehicles for Families

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

There are some SUVs that are great for carrying a large amount of cargo. Others that you can practically fit your entire extended family into. Some are great for easing down the road in style. The trucks and SUVs that made this list are proficient off-roaders that are also great for families.

To find the best ones, AutomotiveMap's writers have spent thousands of hours behind the wheel, in what some (those of us that like to get vehicles muddy and don't mind jostling around) may call "ideal circumstances". Here are our picks.

​2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Jesus Garcia: The redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback is an all-wheel drive wagon that can do everything an off-road crossover can without looking like one. It serves as a great off-road adventure vehicle and alternative to anyone looking to avoid buying CUV.

​2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Nicole Wakelin: The 2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is comfortable with room for the family and their stuff during the week and the capability to have fun on the weekends.

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Harvey Briggs: Room for five, legendary jeep capability, and I can bring my dirt bikes with me? Sounds like my kind of family off-road adventure. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is an easy choice for off-roading families.

2020 Jeep Wrangler

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Sue Mead: The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is a true off-road chops with iconic styling and 4WD hardware. It's also a modern-day road ride. The Rubicon model is available for extreme adventurers, but other trim levels can handle some pretty extreme off-roading. The new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine has better fuel economy than the previous edition and potent torque.

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: The Wrangler is unmatched for off-road prowess, and the Unlimited offers room for the whole family with added thrill of removing the roof and doors.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull: Families deserve to go off-roading in style and the Cullinan is up to the task. I drove a version of the half-million dollar car up the face of Snow King Mountain and on the bumpy dirt roads of Grand Teton National Park during a full day of testing and was suitably impressed. Plus, it's the only Rolls-Royce model that seats five.

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The Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD is a fresh addition to the supercar company's lineup.

Photo by Jordan Golson

There's something about a supercar that is deeply enthralling. This is particularly true when that supercar is a Lamborghini Huracán painted in an outrageous matte purple called Viola Mel.

There's much more to a supercar than the price, but let's get that out of the way up front: My test car stickers for an honestly-quite-reasonable $278,516 after it was fitted with $66,250 worth of optional extras and an eye-watering $3,695 destination charge.

Much like the Rolls-Royce Ghost previously reviewed last week, the question of whether its "worth it" is entirely up to the potential buyer. Specifically whether or not they a: want a Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD; and b: have $278,516 to spend on a wildly impractical 610-horsepower sports car. If the answers to both are true, then yes, it's worth it.

The car's Viola Mel color attracts a lot of attention.Photo by Jordan Golson

But first, the basics: Getting in the Huracán isn't easy. And I don't just mean coming up with a house worth of cash to buy one — I mean literally climbing in. I had to teach a few people how to do it and it goes something like this: Open door; put one foot inside the footwell; set butt on the door sill; slide butt into seat; bring other foot into footwell; close door. To leave, reverse it.

It's not an elegant process and doing it in anything remotely approaching a dignified manner is tricky. But, if you do it right, your car will be painted in that Viola Mel color and folks won't be paying any attention to your haphazard attempts to not fall over when exiting the car because they'll be too busy falling in love with the paint. That's a $16,500 paint job by the way, courtesy of Lamborghini's Ad Personam customization program and words fail when trying to describe how good it looks in person.

It looks so magnificent that people think it's fake. I brought it to the weekly South OC Cars and Coffee event — ostensibly it's an impromptu car show for all manner of car enthusiasts, but an awful lot of Lambo drivers show up to show off. There were at least ten Huracáns in attendance, including a spyder in what a Porsche enthusiast would call Miami Blue — but none garnered as much attention as the Viola Mel.

Storage space is at a premium.Photo by Jordan Golson

This is what owning a supercar (or borrowing one for the weekend, in my case) is all about. Except the paint job was so outrageously unique that nearly everyone thought it was a really good wrap, or temporary vinyl covering. It costs a lot of money to have Lamborghini paint their car in such a way that it convinces people that you put a wrap on your car. And then you get to explain that no, it's not a wrap, it's paint and here let me show you this sticker under the hood that proves it's an original factory paint job. There aren't many cars that could get me going about the paint for hundreds of words, but here we are.

This was my second Huracán, and the first was wildly uncomfortable. A friend that I gave a ride to still talks about how awful it was, and that was five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was because of the car or because of the seats — but it was a little bit of both. That one had the most hardcore racing seats Lambo offers fitted to it, while this one has the mid-tier Sport Seat ($7,500). They're fairly comfortable, as sports car seats go, and are manually adjustable which is good for racing but I might skip them and get the "base" comfort seats instead unless you're going racing, in which case go for the uncomfortable race chairs.

Enough about the look; now on to that 610-horsepower V10. I'm not usually one to get emotional about the good old days, but there is something really special about a giant naturally aspirated engine that's going to be lost from the world soon due to new engine and fuel economy regulations, not to mention the advancement of technology.

The engine fires up with a ferocious bark that rattles the soul like a bolt of lightning and happily revs to terrifying heights with the slightest twitch of the throttle. The start button, hidden beneath an absurdly wonderful red missile-launcher-esque protective cover, might as well inject dopamine directly into your brain in such prodigious amounts as to make you forget about the pandemic, the fact that Trump isn't President or that he ever was (your choice), and that Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings and you don't.

And that's before you aim that Viola Mel nose at the nearest interstate on-ramp and punch it, Chewie.

Troubles forgotten. Smile affixed. Life ain't so bad.

At least until you have to slow down because you're well into triple digits and you haven't even merged onto the highway yet. Still. It's a good day.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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